I’m not a wildfire expert, but this has to be unprecedented. Here is an animated GIF of the wildfires from the afternoon of the 7th until the morning of the 9th.
At the start of the animation, you can see the Lionshead fire smouldering. Overnight on the 7th/8th the cold front passes and the fires just explode westward. Major fires erupt in the McKenzie, Umpqua and Clackamas drainages as the Beachie fire above Opal creek rapidly expands and is caught by the Lionshead.
Most importantly, locations north of 211 look safe at the moment except at Unger Rd. No updates on Bittner Mill aside from what I sent Shara an hour ago. But don’t take my word for it. Keep your phones charged and listen to the radio or look out for police on evacuation missions.
Here’s the latest satellite image as of 11:10 this morning and another at 11:30. The big northernmost blob of orange near the intersection of 122.5W, 45N is the Riverside fire that started near Ripplebrook RS. That fire moved rapidly due west yesterday and overnight. The orange spotted grey streak to its immediate south is the Santiam complex fire (was the Beachie and Lionshead fires). You can see that these two fires appear to have merged and, best I can tell, the point of merging is near Glen Avon. The fire looks very active in that area and shows a recent move to the NW toward Mollala (but not threatening it).
I just listened to the Clackamas County live update and they are way behind on what they are willing to share (they don’t want to overstate fire size and I think the latest data isn’t being communicated up to officials just yet). They publicly estimate 20,000 acres in Clackamas River and another 2200 elsewhere. They are way low on that number with the Santiam fire coming in from the south.
I’m deeply saddened to see the destruction at the hands of wildfire today throughout the Cascade Mountains. The burned areas contain forests that were many of my first wilderness experiences and towns and small cities I’ve known for decades. I await the news that will come when people return to these places or when images are captured. I hope everyone made it out okay and that all lives are spared. I’m glad to know that my family members are safe.